August 3, 2009

The Beast Carson!

It's been a little too long, but after many months I finally made it back down to some of my home water on the East Carson. It feels good to come home to some prime water in the middle of the summer heat, except the heat must have heard I was coming down the canyon because it was cold as a mother on Friday afternoon. It could have been the pouring rain or perhaps the 40 mph wind gusts that cooled things off, but I couldn't really tell which one was worse. I'm not complaining that the weather was a little pissed-off, because it cleared the river of all the hacks and squatters by the time I pulled up, and it knocked down the dust on the trails which was nice. Let's just put it this way, the weather could have been worse, and I've fished in worse. I'm just glad I didn't get hit by lightning.

When I pulled into my buddy's driveway in Meyers at about 2:30 the skies were crystal clear and it was even a little hot, especially for the SLT. When I came over Luther it was a different story. The thunderheads were miles high with a solid black base just south of hope valley. I figured that I might miss the storms in the river canyon, but I was wrong. As I parked near the river, the smell of fresh rainwater on the hot sage soaked the air, and the huge mud puddles on the trail were evidence that clouds had just recently made a deposit.

That smell is probably one of the best things a person could ever experience. It only happens right after a quick thunderstorm in the middle of summer. The ground has to be hot and the air has to be crisp and cold, and when the rain hits, that smell is one of mother nature's ways of reminding you that there is still a bit of solitude left to be found.

When I reached the river the clouds kept getting darker and darker overhead, but that didn't slow me down. I started off using a two nymph rig with an indicator; top fly was a rubber leg stone with a tan BH caddis pupa dropper. A few fish here and there but nothing to brag about. All on the caddis pupa.

I wanted to throw on a hopper dropper rig but I looked in my fly box and there were zero hoppers, so I tied on a huge rubber leg stim. instead. This thing was like an inch and a half long and probably floated better than an indicator would. The dropper was a small BH hare's ear but I don't think it mattered what type of fly was on the bottom, because those fish wanted that stimulator with a vengeance. Every run had some action on the stim. No really big fish, but consistent with the smaller 10 to 16 inchers. Good looking brown trout and some nice rainbows with bright orange fins along every seam. I saw 4 inch fish trying to bring that stimulator down again and again and it made me laugh because I think I hooked a couple of them but they couldn't drag the fly underwater because it was so buoyant: all of a sudden the fly would just start skating across the water all crazy and I knew there was probably a fish underneath it holding on to one of those rubber legs.

All was going great until the wind strated blowing up the canyon a little bit which made casting more of a sideshow than a way to get the fly out there. First it was small gusts every 4 minutes or so. Then it was big gusts every 4 minutes. Soon the gusts were closer together, and that was when I starting swearing (I'm glad I was the only one on the river to hear it, becasue it was probably some funny s#@t). That huge stimulator was like a sail in the wind. Every cast came flying back at my face. The end of the fly line was landing a leader's length further than the fly itself every cast.

I kept at it and thought my persistance would pay off, but the elements laughed at me when the wind started blowing in ~20 to 30 mph gusts consistently without relief... Now that was a sideshow... I quickly reeled-in and figured I'd wait it out, but again, the gods had more jokes to play on me: as soon as I sat down, the thunder clapped right overhead and the rain started coming down in buckets. When I say buckets, that's probably an understatement, it was more like barrels. I was instantly soaked and freezing in the gale-force winds.... rad...

I figured that was a wrap and started hiking back to the truck, but as I passed a big pool I noticed that the rain drops were knocking the caddis out of the willows, and there were these huge swarms forming over the edges of the river. And sure enough, the fish were making their way over to them as they hit the water. I put on the old E/C Caddis and started nuking fish left and right. Now that was what I came for!

After 10 or so fish out of one pool, the rain shut off as quickly as it started and a hot gust of wind started blowing the opposite direction down the canyon. Maybe the gods were done with me, because that wind dried me off in about 10 minutes and then stopped. It was like nature's hair drier! I had stopped swearing by then.

I hope this guy made it out alive, and if yes, I sure wish he'd come back down and drag his p.o.s. canoe out of the river.

The only bad part: when the wind died, so did the caddis action. But that's okay because I tied-on a huge crayfish pattern and landed a monster bow in the tail-out of the same pool. I though at first that the dark shadow at the bottom of the pool was a fish but it didn't move for like 20 minutes, even when I was fishing dries at the head of the pool, so I figured it was a stick or a shadow cast from a rock. But... when that dead drift cray slid by her she turned and followed for about 10 feet before turning back. Several other casts induced the same behavior, but it wasn't until I did a little quick stip right by her that she took a taste.

Beautiful fish, and I wish I had had a change to get a photo, but it's hard when you're by yourself and the fish is anxious to get back to the bottom of the pool. I'm guessing she was about 20-22" and had bright orange fins as well.

On the way out I got a chance to see some of the summer sunsets that I took for granted when I was younger. This is truly some of the most beautiful country in the world!

I think I found where they hid Jimmy Hoffa!

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